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Crow tests positive for West Nile virus

August 14, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A dead crow found in Greenbrier State Park near Boonsboro last week tested positive for West Nile virus, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Tuesday.

It was Washington County's first confirmed case of the disease, said Rod MacRae, the Washington County Health Department's administrator.

MacRae said a park employee found the dead crow Aug. 6. A Washington County environmental health sanitarian collected the bird and sent it to a state lab in Baltimore for testing, he said.

Infected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus can spread it by biting a human, animal or bird.

In humans, symptoms of the virus are usually mild, but the most severe cases can be fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

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Also Tuesday, Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., reported that a dead crow found at the fort at the end of July has tested positive.

It's the second case of West Nile virus in the Frederick area, Mayor Jennifer Dougherty's office said.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that two positive tests were confirmed Tuesday - the crow from Greenbrier State Park and a blue jay from Carroll County.

Maryland now has 129 confirmed cases of West Nile virus. Almost half of the cases - 59 - came from Montgomery County.

Of the 129 cases, 113 have been found in crows.

In addition, 13 samples of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus, but none in Western Maryland, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported.

The department has received more than 10,000 reports of suspected West Nile virus through its Web site and its Public Health Hot Topics Line (1-866-866-2769) since May 8. The department's lab has tested almost 900 birds.

MacRae said Washington County has submitted several birds for testing. All but the crow found at Greenbrier State Park tested negative.

The county is waiting for test results on another five or six birds, MacRae said.

In West Virginia, at least five birds have tested positive since May, but none in Berkeley, Jefferson or Morgan counties, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources.

A Pennsylvania Web site devoted to tracking West Nile virus does not list any positive tests in Franklin or Fulton counties.

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